Flaws in the way COVID fatalities were calculated have been emerging throughout the pandemic. There are multiple examples, and another one just emerged from the scientists at Collateral Global. A new report spearheaded by Dr. Carl Heneghan, epidemiologist and director at the University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, has revealed that death counts regarding COVID we were constantly bombarded with on a daily basis are not accurate.
Why is this important? The authors explain,
“Death is a widely used outcome to assess the severity of pandemics. Accuracy in assigning the cause of death is of vital importance to define the impact of the agent, monitor its evolution, and compare its threat with those of other agents. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been widespread reporting of aggregate death data with little attention paid to the accuracy of the assignment of causation.”
The researchers went through 800 responses to Freedom of Information Act requests that were made by members of the public to medical institutions like hospital trusts and care homes. They found multiple flaws in the way COVID fatalities were recorded.
In some cases, COVID negative individuals, and those whose death was clearly not caused by COVID, were still classified as “COVID-19 deaths.” The report also explains that in care homes, deaths were certified as COVID deaths by doctors doing their inspection via a video call.
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The researchers found 14 different terms that were used to describe a person who had died with COVID. These included “involving COVID,” “underlying COVID,” “died within either 28 or 60 days of a positive test,” and “due to COVID.” Under all of these categories, deaths in each one were added to the total COVID death count.
Henneghan told Eve Simmons, Deputy Health Editor for The Mail,
“It is incredibly important to understand the logical chain of events that led to death. But if every health body is using a different definition, how do we know whether COVID has directly caused the death or if it was something else that was underlying? Two years into this pandemic, it is clear nobody can really understand or answer that question.” – Dr. Carl Heneghan, epidemiologist and director at the University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine,
Concerns about the COVID death count emerged in early to mid-2020. This was primarily due to the fact that multiple health authorities admitted that a COVID death includes those who died with a positive test, regardless of whether the cause of death was something completely unrelated.
For example, Public Health England calculated its toll by checking NHS databases to see if a person who had tested COVID positive at some point had died. Ontario (Canada) made it quite clear that,
“Any case marked as “Fatal” is included in the deaths data. Deaths are included whether or not COVID-19 was determined to be a contributing or underlying cause of death.”
This was emphasized as above in footnote 7 of this page on the Ontario government website, it’s now been changed to the following,
“Deaths are determined by using the Outcome and Type of Death fields in CCM. COVID-19 deaths are counted where the Outcome value is ‘Fatal’ and the Type of Death value is not ‘DOPHS was unrelated to cause of death.”
In late June of 2020 Toronto (Ontario, Canada) Public Health tweeted that “Individuals who have died with COVID-19, but not as a result of COVID-19 are included in the case counts for COVID-19 deaths in Toronto.”
Ontario Ministry of Health Senior Communications Advisor Anna Miller stated at the time,
“As a result of how data is recorded by health units into public health information databases, the ministry is not able to accurately separate how many people died directly because of COVID versus those who died with a COVID infection.”
Sir David John Spiegelhalter OBE FRS, a well-known British statistician explained after one year into the pandemic how multiple countries changed their definition of a COVID death several times. Even statements from politicians throughout this pandemic has caused confusion.
Spiegelhalter and Simmons both explain that one UK official said, “You could have tested positive in February, have no symptoms, then be hit by a bus in July and you’d be recorded as a COVID death.”
In mid-2020, the Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, stated the following,
“If you were in hospice and had already been given a few weeks to live and then you were also found to have COVID, that would be counted as a COVID death, despite if you died of a clear alternative cause it’s still listed as a COVID death. So, everyone who is listed as a COVID death, that doesn’t mean that was the cause of the death, but they had COVID at the time of death.”
As you can see, it’s not hard to figure out why there is and has been so much confusion with regards to the COVID death count throughout this pandemic.
The Collateral Global report also uncovered more than 1,500 cases across eight UK hospitals where COVID was the only cause listed on the death certificate. A Freedom of Information Act request released on January 17, 2022 by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) showed that there were only 6,183 deaths caused solely by COVID in England and Wales between February 2020 and December 2021.
In the United States, according to official CDC data, approximately 95% of people who died with COVID had an average of four other causes of death listed on their death certificate. Even with this staggering number and the way the death toll has been counted, changed and used in multiple countries, we don’t know, out of this 95% of people, how many of these deaths were actually caused by a COVID infection.
Epidemiologist Professor Tom Jefferson, a co-author of the Collateral Global paper explains,
“It means we can’t trust what is written on that certificate.”
According to Henneghan,
“By the very nature of people who are in care homes, they have lots of comorbidities (the presence of two or more diseases at the same time) that contribute to their death. This usually includes either underlying heart failure, or diabetes, or something else – and then they got COVID. So there should be more than one issue besides COVID on the death certificate, otherwise we don’t know why these people died.”
“We’re not trying to say one way or the other, but the key is accuracy. Was COVID really the predominant underlying cause of death in care homes – or was it something else?”
Professor Heneghan suggests that only a forensic analysis of historical COVID deaths will uncover the truth. He adds: “We should take a sample of deaths that had COVID written on the certificate and try to validate the accuracy.”
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The Collateral Global report concludes,
“The overall lack of consistency has confused the public and likely led to erroneous conclusions. We are unable to separate the effects on deaths of SARS-CoV-2 from those of human interventions. A coherent process based on consistent definitions across the devolved nations is required. Furthermore, to enhance the accuracy of causation in pandemics a subset of deaths should be verified using autopsies with full medical documentation.”
What’s also interesting to note are the experiences multiple people had during the pandemic, where doctors claimed COVID caused a death when the family members were convinced otherwise. Simmons provides a couple of examples in her article.
“One person convinced that non-COVID deaths were being blamed on the virus is Gary Wylde, a 59-year-old sales executive from Wolverhampton whose mother Jessie suffered from dementia as well as a severe lung disease that limited her ability to breathe.
When Jessie died in April 2020, doctors noted her cause of death as Covid-19 – despite her never testing positive for the virus.
‘The doctor explained to me that, in the absence of a test, doctors are encouraged to put down COVID on death certificates,’ said Gary.
Likewise Julie Perkins, a 57-year-old civil servant from Leicestershire, who believes her 83-year-old father Ted died after suffering a stroke in May 2020.
The retired road worker, who lived in a care home, also had a high temperature for six days and his death certificate stated he died of Covid-19 – despite a recent negative test.
‘We were extremely shocked when the GP wrote he’d died of the virus on his death certificate,’ said Julie. ‘It’s just not right.”
At the end of the day, the point is that we don’t know how many people have actually died from COVID, as opposed to with COVID. We don’t know how many people died where COVID contributed as the cause of death, and this includes people with comorbidities.
In this video of Dr. Vinay Prasad, MD MPH, and Dr. John Ioannidis, a professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Stanford, discuss just how complicated counting and attributing deaths to causes really is. The video is timestamped to start at 56:38 because that’s where they begin to discuss death counts.
Testing every single person for a virus is something we’ve never done before. This article does not even account for the well documented “false positive” phenomenon that also has to be factored into the COVID death count equation. Furthermore, if we applied the same testing rigour we applied to COVID with other common respiratory viruses, like the flu for example, what would those numbers look like? How many cases would there be? What would the flu death count look like if it included people who died with a positive test result?
In March 2020 Ioannidis published an article titled, “A fiasco in the making? As the coronavirus pandemic takes hold, we are making decisions without reliable data.” In it, he explains,
“In an autopsy series that tested for respiratory viruses in specimens from 57 elderly persons who died during the 2016 to 2017 influenza season, influenza viruses were detected in 18% of the specimens, while any kind of respiratory virus was found in 47%. In some people who die from viral respiratory pathogens, more than one virus is found upon autopsy and bacteria are often superimposed. A positive test for coronavirus does not mean necessarily that this virus is always primarily responsible for a patient’s demise.”
The idea that COVID deaths were over exaggerated, and possibly under exaggerated in some cases during the pandemic is not a farfetched idea. Many parts of this pandemic have been heavily politicized and decisions have not been evidence based. Lockdowns and vaccine mandates are a great example of that, and it seems those who are profiting from this pandemic have done everything they can do to mislead us.
Simultaneously, evidence and opinion that called into question what our governments were telling us were subjected to extreme amounts of censorship. Instead of open, peaceful and transparent debates we received ridicule, censorship and the condemnation of those who were willing to ask questions and explore deeper.
At the end of the day, a more focused protection approach should have been used, like the Great Barrington Declaration was advocating for throughout the pandemic. The vulnerable in this situation were clearly the elderly with multiple underlying health issues.
What happened during this pandemic begs the question, was it being used for ulterior motives by those who wished to profit off of it both politically and financially?
This article (We’ve Been Bombarded With A Misleading COVID Death Count For Two Years) was originally published on The Pulse and is published under a Creative Commons license.